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Michigan’s Dana Nessel: I may charge fake GOP electors if feds don’t

Dana Nessel
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says 16 Republican officials who submitted a certificate last year claiming former President Trump carried Michigan may have been part of a broader conspiracy. (Bridge file photo)

LANSING— Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday her office has enough evidence to bring charges against 16 Republicans who submitted a certificate falsely claiming Donald Trump had won Michigan’s electors in 2020.

But the first-term Democrat told reporters her office referred the case Thursday to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Andrew B. Birge because federal officials are “better suited" to prosecute.

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“It is our hope that the Department of Justice will pursue this because we think it's really the best venue for it from a jurisdictional standpoint,” Nessel said. “We think it's important because it allows for the federal authorities to determine if there … was a multi-state conspiracy.”

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At the core of the issue is a document signed on Dec. 14, 2020, by Republicans who falsely claimed they were “the duly elected and qualified electors” of Michigan after meeting at the state Capitol that day to perform “the duties enjoined upon us.”

According to documents obtained by Politico, among the GOP signees are Meshawn Maddock, who is now co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party; Kathy Berden, a National Republican Committee member from Michigan; and Stanley Grot, a Shelby Township trustee and former secretary of state candidate. Maddock wasn’t party co-chair when she signed the certificate.

Even though President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris won Michigan by 154,188 votes in 2020, the officials signed affidavits claiming that Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence carried the state.

The certificate was transmitted by Berden to the president of the U.S. Senate and other officials in an effort to thwart Biden’s victory, Nessel said.

“Obviously, this is part of a much bigger conspiracy” to “overthrow the U.S. government,” Nessel said Thursday on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Fake electors in at least five other states— Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin— also tried to submit false certificates with the same font and language.

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Records obtained by DC-based advocacy nonprofit American Oversight, the certificates of the seven states followed a similar template.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Republican Party didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from Bridge. The Detroit News quoted a party spokesperson as saying Nessel is “playing  political games with people’s lives and livelihoods for the sake of scoring political points ahead of an election."

Grot and Berden didn’t immediately respond to separate requests for comment.

Nessel added her office might still move forward with bringing charges later if the federal government doesn’t prosecute. She mentioned the possibility of charges such as forgery of a public record and election law forgery, which could carry prison sentences of up to 14 years in prison.

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